The current format theoretically can last decades before changes are needed. Embossed white serial on black plate with border line; "WN" at left and vertical "X18" at right, Embossed black serial on yellow plate with border line; "WN X-19" at left. All types of vehicles, regardless of class (car, motorcycle, truck, government-owned, for hire, etc.) “X” marks the plate: introduction of vehicle class codes. Commemorated Washington's 50 years of statehood. Naturally, car dealers want you to believe that the mileage is less than it really is. At the very least, 500 people inquired as to where “Wn.” was located. On April 10, Charles E. Post & Company of Los Angeles beat out four other bidders and was awarded the contract to manufacture the 1916 license plates for a … The department shall offer to owners the option of retaining the current license plate number when obtaining replacement license plates for the fee required in … The state of Washington officially got into the business of issuing license plates when the new auto law was passed in January 1915, effective June 10. Many changes were implemented in the state’s second year of issuing plates. Washington was still using the 1954 base with renewal tabs, so while existing registrations kept their original plates, all newly-issued plates were in the new dimensions, with a design that mimicked the originals. The 1917 color scheme was an unusual choice for license plates. AN for Asotin, SJ for San Juan). The location of the name and date would migrate between top and bottom over the next decade and a half. With windshield stickers used for renewing 1942 plates, metal plates for 1944 are scarce. These plates were only issued to new registrations; the 1963 plates were not replaced and continued to be revalidated by year stickers. This system would continue until 1921. A county owned vehicle would have a C prefix. In 1946, however, the state reverted back to a windshield sticker in lieu of plates, so no passenger plates were issued this year. This cost-savings effort was doomed to failure from the start, and the plates had already proved unpopular before the end of the 1919 licensing year, with a Seattle Times editorial deriding the 1919 plates as a “cheap yellow form of construction that has aroused the resentment of every automobile owner who displays it.”. Revalidated for 1952 and 1953 in the same manner as for 1950 plates. All images are items from my collection or scanned images of historic photos I own, unless noted otherwise. Under the terms of the auto law, the licensing period aligned to the state’s fiscal year (beginning of March to the end of February). Many cars are resold, change ownership, taken out of the state or are traded in. This is probably the most sought after Washington State plate by collectors. Have any that need a new home? State law drove another change in Washington’s plates. All of the renewal tabs had to be made prior to the start of the licensing year, which meant producing matching sets of tabs for every single number issued in 1919, since there was no way to identify which licenses wouldn’t be renewed due to sale of the vehicle, moving out of state, etc. The 1916 issue was quite large (6 1/4″ tall and 16 1/2″ wide), and non-passenger types such as trucks or for hire vehicles had an additional 1 ¼” of height added, as the vehicle class was spelled out in large letters at the top. Embossed green serial on white plate with border line; "WASHINGTON 1940" at bottom, Embossed white serial on green plate with border line; "WASHINGTON 1941" at top, Embossed green serial on white plate; "WASHINGTON 1942" at bottom, Revalidated for 1943 and 1944 with windshield stickers, due to metal conservation for, As 1942 base, but with "WASHINGTON 1944" at bottom, Embossed green serial on white plate; "WASHINGTON 1945" at top. King County registrations had become so large that the system could no longer be adapted to accommodate the necessary amount of letter combinations. Washington State License Plates Barbara Jo Birt offers a brief history and photos of old plates from the Evergreen State. This site is currently under construction. Special plates Personalized plates. Plate 999-JNZ was the last to be issued in the old format, with 000-JOA marking the transition point to the new design. To guard against the demand for old numbers, license plates must be provided for which there is no call. The State of Washington first required automobile licensing statewide in 1905, and continued the pre-state system of registration through the end of 1915. Official state license plates were issued for the first time in 1916. Please contact me! Visit An Office, Bring Your Application, Plates, Title and Payment. Luckily, online VIN and license plate … Some of the original plates had already been shipped to county auditors (mostly in Pierce and Spokane Counties), and in these cases were issued to the public as planned. The date displayed on the license plate indicated the expiration year (so the 1916 license plates expired February 29, 1916, and the 1917 issue was valid from March 1, 1916 to February 28, 1917). This exception worked for 1935 and 1936, as King was the only county with a vehicle population large enough to reach six-digit registrations. After 83 years of state-issued license plates, Washington for the first time displayed the state motto, Evergreen State, on its plates. 1938 was the only year where the date preceded the state name, until the 1954 base was introduced. Revalidated for 1948 with windshield stickers. The modern era of license plates began in Washington in 1958, with the introduction of the now-common alphanumeric ABC 123 format on multiyear baseplates renewed with adhesive stickers. In 1997 the size of the hyphen was enlarged, starting with 000-HYB. After the jubilation of 50 years of statehood subsided, the 1940 issue kicked off more than a decade of fairly standardized designs. The 'X' indicated the passenger class of vehicles; other letters were used for other classes. Washington has 39 counties, so after Z was assigned to the 26th smallest county (Klickitat), the remaining 13 received two-letter abbreviations derived from their names (e.g. Prior to this, registrations all expired on December 31 of each year. As supply constraints prevented adequate stocks to be issued to each county, a non-county coded plate was produced that could be shipped to counties as needed. With age, the blue paint tends to fade to black. People even made wagers in Thermopolis, Wyoming, as to whether we were from Canada or Wisconsin. The plate size was reduced and a letter code was introduced to designate the vehicle class, with “X” being issued to private passenger vehicles, “T” denoting trucks, etc. Formats for license plate numbers may be consistent within the state. Front and rear plates are required on all vehicles except for motorcycles. Aside from 1928, which had one of the boldest color years, colors alternated between green and white. In 1925, the colors reverted back to the 1923 format. Please do not use for any other purposes without permission, Vintage Washington State vehicle registration cards, Vintage Washington State drivers licenses, county-issued paper or cardboard temporary licenses pending their plates’ arrival from Olympia. An updated based was introduced in 1982, with the state name screened instead of embossed and the registration number no longer being coded by county. Representative Hubbell explained that this is one of several bills to make auto laws confirm with laws of adjacent states.”. For example, Delaware and Rhode Island were formerly able to use six-digit all-numeric serials due to their low respective populations; both now use five-digit serials, with Delaware using a letter and four digits, and Rhode Island using two letters and three digits. These plates were plagued by weak paint on the numbers. These Oregon-sourced plates differed from the pre-fire plates in size, metal (aluminum vs steel), and dies. Front and rear plates are required for most classes of vehicles, while only rear plates are required for motorcycles and trailers. (B) Expiration February 28, 1921 (C) Valid between March 1, 2021 and December 31, 1921. With the adoption of staggered registrations, a month sticker was added and validity was determined from the date of original registration. The U.S. state of Washington first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in 1905. The B prefix indicates a state owned vehicle and the D prefix is a city owned vehicle. All plates are authentic and in original condition unless noted otherwise. Washington (state) License Plates of Washington Ian Slade has details and nice photos of passenger and motorcycle plates from the state of Washington. Standard plate issuance resumed for 1945, with the 1942 plates finally coming off bumpers after three years in use. The format was largely unchanged for 1918, although a more legible white on black color scheme was used. As explained in the Seattle Times, “In the working out of the law, it was reported to the appropriations committee, the state is losing about $25,000 during a biennial period. Manufacturing was awarded to the Western Display Company of Minneapolis. Special plates. This base was undated, providing enough room for validation stickers. The result was characterized by a Seattle Times columnist as “dull, drab, dreary-looking.”, With the 1950 issue, the state resurrected the practice of multi-year baseplates renewed by tabs. Please visit Washington State License Plate History. Follow this Link to our Project Samples Gallery. Another development was the introduction of a staggered registration system in 1977. 1916 That’s not very good advertising, as everyone writing to this state abbreviates the state as “Wash.” Why two abbreviations?”. The decision to issue only a single plate for the rear of the vehicle had been controversial from the start, but trouble identifying a bank robber’s getaway car in Seattle was the tipping point for public outrage and law enforcement pushback, so at the end of 1954 the Department of Licensing acquiesced to demands for a front plate. The winner was Eric Booth, a high school senior in Bellingham, beating out more than 2,000 other designs. 1919 licenses had expired the day before, on February 28, so with the late change in the law, a one-month grace period was granted for 1919 licenses, making them valid through March 31 without a 1920 renewal. For ten years, this was the extent of vehicle licensing in the state of Washington. All of the license plates and related ephemera pictured are from the collection of the author, unless otherwise noted. With the law implementing a more commonsense calendar year period of validity, a second plate was needed for the last ten months of 1921, as the original green plates had expired on February 28, 1921. Things were primitive at the start. 1952 was the final year windshield stickers were used in Washington. It was not an ideal execution. 1930's - 1940's (A) New registrations only. In an attempt to offer the broadest range of history sources for learning about pre-state license plates, we recently ran an internet search using a popular search engine with the search terms “pre state license plates history”; this resulted in over two million hits. The prison plate shop would not reopen until the production of the 1958 plates began. If so, you can drive off the lot using temporary plates or tags and wait a about a week for your license plates to arrive in the mail. For military personnel In 1967, the legislature passed a law stating that “All vehicle license number plates issued after January 1, 1968 […] shall be treated with reflectorized materials designed to increase the visibility and legibility of such plates at night.”   This resulted in another new baseplate in 1968, which again did not replace any plates currently on the road. Outcry over the “Wash” abbreviation was widespread enough that in 1965 the state legislature passed a law stating: “Vehicle license number plates issued by the state of Washington commencing with the next general issuance of such plates shall be so designed as to designate the name of the state of Washington in full without abbreviation.”. As above, but fully embossed with border line, 157501 to approximately 194000, with gaps, Embossed white serial on green plate; "WN X-21" at left, Embossed black serial on gray plate; "WN X:21" at left, Embossed white serial on brown plate; "WN X-22" at left, Embossed dark blue serial on white plate; "WN X:23" at left, 1 to 200000; 300001 to approximately 319000, Embossed white serial on dark blue plate; "WN X:24" at left, Embossed dark blue serial on white plate; "WN X-25" at left, Embossed white serial on green plate; "WASHINGTON" at bottom, slightly offset to right; vertical "X26" at left, Embossed green serial on white plate; "WASHINGTON" at bottom, slightly offset to right; vertical "X27" at left, Embossed black serial on orange plate with border line; "X WASHINGTON-28" at bottom, Embossed white serial on green plate with border line; "X WASHINGTON-29" at bottom, Embossed green serial on white plate with border line; "30 WASHINGTON X" at bottom, Embossed white serial on green plate with border line; "X WASHINGTON 31" at bottom, Embossed green serial on white plate with border line; "X 32 WASHINGTON" at bottom, Embossed white serial on green plate with border line; "X WASHINGTON 33" at top, Embossed green serial on white plate with border line; "X WASHINGTON 34" at bottom, Embossed white serial on dark blue plate with border line; "X WASHINGTON 35" at bottom, First use of county codes, and last use of 'X' to indicate the passenger class. The DMV issued the first metal plates, with blue background and white letters. All plates for sale indicated as Restored were done personally by The TagDr. T = Truck E = Publicly Owned Vehicle You will receive the actual plate pictured. 1953 saw the 1950 and 1951-dated plates renewed with dated ’53 tabs. This design became the new general issue for new registrations, and owners of existing vehicles could purchase the new plate for a fee. Codes were assigned by population, in descending order. These would be the last non-graphic plates issued in Washington. All images are items from my collection or scanned images of historic photos I own, unless noted otherwise. License plates from this era, before state-issued plates, are known as prestates. The county coding system was finally abandoned during this era. Embossed white serial on green plate; "54 WASHINGTON" at bottom, Revalidated for 1955 with silver tabs, for 1956 with white tabs, and for, As above, but to 6" x 12" size, and with narrower dies and border line. By embossing the first year on the plate, the state claimed it would save $50,000 by not making 1963 stickers. Once again, Washington state vehicle license plate lookup will show you all the records associated with car title, so you have the chance to spot anything wrong. A license … Transfer plates to another vehicle. The state’s Golden Jubilee was commemorated by the dates of statehood and the one-time designation of the “State of Washington”. Non-passenger vehicles had their class type spelled out, and were not county-coded. For a period, there were no plates available at all, and only a windshield sticker was issued to new applicants. The most notable aspect of the 1942 plates was that they were used far longer than intended: three years. 1954 motorcycle plates were slightly larger and used different dies. I wanted people to know our state, and I do not remember in the East of any one knowing what “Wn.” stood for. license plate type: … The legislature passed a new auto license law with an updated fee structure on March 1, 1919. Both these plates issued only to new registrants. Please do not reproduce without permission. The year on the plate indicated the year it expired. As a cost-savings measure, the original plan was for these to display the state name in full, followed by an embossed “63” to denote the first year of expiration, with adhesive year stickers used to renew for future years. Unpainted aluminum plates were used again for the 1949 issue, but this time they were sandblasted with steel grit to dull the background and eliminate the bright reflection caused by the shiny metal background at night. wrote to the Seattle Times: “I am good and peeved because on a trip taken by my husband and me this last summer, back through the South to Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and back—I am peeved because no one the other side of the Idaho line knew what ‘Wn.” stood for on our car license plate. As registrations lapsed over time, older dead numbers were recycled by the state. For unknown reasons, the county code, which had always been a prefix, was changed to a suffix. The vehicle class code system (“X” for passenger, “T” for Truck) that had been in place since 1917 was finally abandoned in 1936. No plates were issued to passenger vehicles, only certain nonpassenger types such as trailers, dealers, and motorcycles. May have … Single series of all-numeric serials used for all classes of vehicles, including trucks, vehicles for hire and dealer vehicles. When the new law went into effect June 10, 1915, the handmade license plates on all vehicles in the state expired. For 1919, the state began an experiment with multi-year plates, modeled after the practice used by California. These plates looked quite different from the regular issues: they were smaller (made from leftover blanks of 1952 Hawaii plates) and used the same blocky dies as Oregon plates. Washington License Plates for Sale Home « Washington Plates Browse By Location Year. The state of Washington officially got into the business of issuing license plates when the new auto law was passed in January 1915, effective June 10. Click Here for our Washington State Plate Gallery. The 1958 base plate was used, through renewal stickers, through 1962. Currently it has taken the state five to six years to run through a complete letter series (e.g. However, an embossed “WASHINGTON 63” would not provide enough room for future years’ renewal stickers, so at the last minute the design was altered, “substituting the ugly abbreviation ‘Wash’ for the dignified full name of our state,” sniffed the Longview Daily News. Passenger vehicles were designated by a small "X," trucks by a "T," and publicly-owned vehicles by a small "E." License plates were issued to a person not a vehicle. received a simple number. 1923 Washington State License Plates . 1928 also saw the date and vehicle class designator moved to the same line as the state name. In 1920, some of the license plates issued by the State of Washington were made of porcelain. Vehicle registration plates of North America, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Automobile License Plate Collectors Association, Vehicle registration plates of the United States, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Vehicle_registration_plates_of_Washington_(state)&oldid=1000020592, Vehicle registration plates of the United States by state, Washington (state) transportation-related lists, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Embossed white serial on dark blue plate with border line; vertical "WN" and "1916" at left and right respectively, 1 to approximately 45000, with gaps (see right). Legibility was not a strong suit for white numbers on a lavender background. The plates were designed with slots over the date, which would be used to apply metal tabs, a practice common in other states. With the idea of multi-year plates abandoned, 1921 saw a new design that was smaller than previous years. In March 1922, the license plate shop was established at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. AAA0000 to AZZ9999), so any variety on Washington bumpers will have to come from the growing number of optional graphics. Immediately after 1947 plates began appearing on the road, numerous complaints poured in about the bright reflection they generated. In fact, the 1963 plates, and all others issued thereafter, remained in use through 2000. This system would remain in use through 1935. License Plate Info: 2004 Washington license plate - 562-GMU 1987 Rainier base (Evergreen State) (Pair, Gold Rush, 1987 base, Auction, Unusual Sticker, 2004 pass.) Registration for License Plates in Washington If you purchased your vehicle from a dealership in Washington, they are likely to handle the registration of your vehicle. With in-state production impossible until the mill was rebuilt, the state launched a frantic search for an alternate supplier. Narrower dies were adopted in 1985, also introducing a hyphen in the registration number, starting with number LLL-000. 1921 finally saw the end of the state’s odd validity period. Plates are currently issued by the Washington State Department of Licensing. An owner or the owner's authorized representative may apply for a replacement license plate or plates at any time the owner chooses. “At night headlights reflecting on the plate practically obliterate the numerals, the unpainted aluminum having the same characteristics as a mirror held to catch the sun’s rays,” complained the Spokane Safety Commissioner after the plates had been on the road only two weeks. Bjorn Larsen P.O. Plates are currently issued by the District of Columbia Department of … Shown below are photographs of Washington passenger-car license plates representing each year of issue, beginning with the first official state issue (from 1915, expiring February 29, 1916), and continuing through 2008. Plates from 1916 through 1920 were issued on a March-to-March basis. These narrower dies also allowed the use of seven-character personalized plates for the first time. The state name briefly reverted back to the old design in 1980. All of Washington’s license plates until 1925 were embossed with WN and the year of issue. Washington State Patrol License Plate used during 1976. The color scheme from 1923 was inverted in 1924, with white numbers on a dark blue background. The 1919 plates were manufactured with six slots surrounding the state name, date, and vehicle class, with the intention of using a tab to renew the plates in future years. In the instances where the original prison-made plates had been issued, this also resulted in completely mismatched sets of plates, where one car would have had a steel, Washington-made plate on the rear and an aluminum, Oregon-made plate on the front. Washington, D.C. See District of Columbia, above. Find out how to replace your plates, and what to do with the old ones. Go. The plates were annually stickered through 1975, when the sticker shown on this plate was added as a permanent one. I’d love hear from anyone who may have questions, comments, needs more information, or has some old plates that need a new home! The U.S. state of Washington first required its residents to register their motor vehicles in … The 1942 plates were revalidated by windshield stickers in 1943 and 1944. By the time this system ended in mid 1915, numbers were being assigned in the low 40000s. With a glut of aluminum available after the war, many states issued plates in the late 1940s with a bare aluminum background. This began an enormous effort to manufacture a second plate for every number and ship them to registrants across the state. The embossed border was removed and the state name converted to block characters and moved to the top left, consistent with much of Washington’s plates since 1941. 14" x 4 1/2" Just found these today. The state created a design contest for the new plate. Few changes in design or processes occurred for the next several years. Don't put them in curbside recycling unless you contact the recycler first to see if the plates will be accepted. Plates were slow to arrive from the factory: only the first 400 licenses had been issued by June 15, and by July 15, only a total of 15,753 had been issued, with an estimated 20-25,000 still pending. As registration volumes continued to increase, the process of issuing plates centrally from Olympia became too costly and inefficient, and in 1935 Washington adopted the practice used in many other states and implemented a county code system. Green and white once again became the dominant colors, with the only other major changes being a yearly switch in the location of the state name and year from bottom to top and back. Validated for 1956 and 1957 in the same manner as for 1954–55 plates. In spite of these complaints, the plates stayed on the road for two years, as windshield stickers were again used in 1948 to revalidate plates. Washington State 1919 Antique License Plate #21969. The original plan for ’54 plates was to issue them as singles, for cost-saving reasons, made of steel and in the same format as the 1950 plates, with a reversed color scheme. It was pointed out that the old plan of issuing number plates whenever a license application was made did not require purchasing more plates than could actually be sold.”. Plates are currently provided by the Driver & Motor Vehicle Services branch of the Oregon Department of Transportation. The State of Washington began registering motor vehicles in 1906 but only started to issue metal license plates in 1916. House Bill 70 passed on January 27, 1921, and, as summarized in the Tacoma Daily Ledger, provided “that auto license numbers issued in December shall be good for the following year. Exempt license plates. Eventually it will be an illustrated presentation of the many interesting aspects of the history of Washington state license plates. Support your favorite cause by getting a license plate with a special background design. A Brief History of Washington State License Plates 1905. Replace your license plates. Of porcelain for many years, this was the extent of vehicle class codes December 31 1921! Was inverted in 1924, with white porcelain tabs the state expired and bottom over the several. Law with an updated fee structure on March 1, 2021 and December 31, 1921 ( )! Of several bills to make Washington ’ s license plates. [ 1 ] ) Valid between 1! 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